11 January 2011

A Beautiful Story of Ugly Things

The Replacement

Brenna Yovanoff

4.5 Stars

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world. Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the slag heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs. (quoted from goodreads)

First Sentence:
"I don't remember any of the true, important parts, but there's this dream I have."

Okay, first of all, before I even talk about the actual book, let me just gush about how absolutely gorgeous the cover is! It's so dark and mysterious and foreboding - a bunch of dangerous objects hanging over, of all things, a baby's crib. This alone was enough to make me very intrigued by this book. But, moving on to the content of the book, the story inside is very unique. I've never seen anything like it before, especially since the others, the ones who live near Gentry and kidnap its babies, enchant it, etc. are not named. They are not called faeries or fey or sirens or demons or zombies or any other sort of paranormal creature. They are simply a dark, unnamed group, although being unnamed makes them no less real or powerful or feared. There is this eerie feeling about them doesn't fade even as we get to know them better. Then there's the characters. Mackie, the protagonist, is completely believable. He's just another frustrated guy, trying to fit in and be happy and pursue the girl he likes. But of course, he's not ordinary, and I really loved how his character grows throughout the story and eventually comes to terms with himself. However, as great as Mackie was, my favorite characters would have to be the supporting cast. Roswell, Mackie's best friend, is so loyal and kind and dependable and solid - even when Mackie blows him off or won't tell the truth or needs his help with something despicable, Roswell never even hesitates. Tate, the girl Mackie falls in love with, is just so very stubborn and determined and independent, you can't help but admire her and root for her. Mackie's parents - or rather, adopted parents - are lovely also. Although the 'others', the haunting, strange ones that don't belong in Gentry, are supposedly dark, I can't help loving them too, because there's this sense that they are just as vulnerable and fragile and real as the humans. But the character that really won me over was Mackie's sister, Emma. I can't even describe how amazing she is: her sweet nature and her love of Mackie, her willingness to do whatever it takes to protect him, and her steadfast belief in him. Emma is one of those characters that I would feel blessed to have in my life, because she sticks by you and loves you completely unconditionally. As for the plot, it's definitely unique and draws you in; you don't want to stop reading because you get so attached to the characters. It's difficult not to care about them, and there's this strong need to know how their stories unfold, what happens with these ugly things and blind people and hard choices. I also adored the family values and love presented in the book - Mackie's family and friends are just so supportive, so loyal and accepting. Not that it's a cheery, rainbows-and-unicorns kind of book, but it manages to subtly include these themes of family and love and courage and acceptance. The only reason that it didn't get a full 5 stars is that for about the first 100 pages or so, the writing felt a bit choppy and disconnected to me, not as fluid and well-written as the rest of the book. Also, Mackie's relationship with Tate ticked me off a bit, because I felt like I never got to see the process of Mackie's falling for Tate; I didn't understand how Mackie went from being irritated with her to loving her. But other than that, it was great. Absolutely recommend it if you're in the mood for something eerie and dark!


  1. I totally agree about the choppy writing in the beginning. Otherwise it was good.

  2. Anonymous - Yeah, it's hard to get into, but it gets better!